For many years, local businesses have provided email for their employees, primarily, in one of two ways: they’ve paid a company to host it for them (POP3 email), or they purchased a file server and installed special email hosting software, such as Microsoft Exchange.
I’m willing to bet that most regular email users have, at some point, received an odd message from a friend or family member that seemed completely out of context.
I know a way to speed up your computer significantly. When you start your workday, you will marvel at how quickly it boots to the desktop. When you open a previously slow-launching program, you will be amazed at how much faster it loads. When you double-click on a spreadsheet, Excel will open almost instantaneously. All that is needed to experience this computing nirvana is a solid-state drive (SSD).
It is possible for your passwords to be both secure and easy to remember, despite popular belief. It is not necessary to write them on Post-It notes “hidden” under your keyboard.
Windows 8 is here and I have high hopes. I’ve been waiting for a product that will fill in the gaping hole between the popular iPad and the traditional business PC.
Now may be the time for businesses that are considering the purchase of computer hardware or software to move ahead with those acquisitions.
I’m going to share a secret with you about how to keep a business network stable, secure and malware-free without spending money on software or hardware tools. By following this single recommendation, a problematic computer system prone to virus and malware infections will begin running smooth as silk.
The first pangs of paranoia surfaced while filling out online applications. My wife realized how much personal information she was feeding into random websites promising employment.
Every time I turn on my computer, iTunes requires another huge update.
OK, maybe not every time, but as an iPod and iPad owner, the Apple Updater does seem to play a regular and prominent role in my life. The appearance of the update notification box causes an almost Pavlovian-like response on my part. I do a quick scan of the update’s description and, if I get even the tiniest hint there is a security fix included, I install it – immediately and without hesitation.
I know I’m unusual – it’s the paranoid security guy in me. Indeed, few people share my patch installation passion. I don’t blame them; the updates are time consuming, they eat up your Internet bandwidth, and there’s even a tiny chance they could take what appears to be a functional system and cause problems. In a recent Facebook post, my nephew summarized most folks’ opinions: “Dear iTunes, your ONLY job is to play music for my entertainment. There is no reason you should need updating every two weeks.”
If my nephew had made that posting a decade or so ago (pre-dating Facebook), he would have been right. Life was simpler back then: people were honest, children respected their elders, and iTunes just played music organized into simple playlists. Today, however, Apple would disagree with his assessment, as they have a very different vision. After all, iTunes has evolved into a complex and powerful consolidated, central management platform for organizing music, movies, audible books, podcasts, ringtones, apps, Genius playlists, album cover art and licensing control. Just for fun and profit, it is also a complete Internet-based storefront, it supports cloud-hosted offerings, and does any number of other questionably useful things, most of which have nothing to do with listening to music.
It is the central management application for an endless host of iPhone, iPod and iPad models – and who knows what other iGadgets. Many of the iTunes version releases I’ve seen specifically add support for the latest generation of Apple gadgetry. You may have heard that the iPhone is really a computer that happens to have a cellphone app. Well, iTunes is really a store, multimedia, and gadget management platform that happens to play music.
If any of these numerous hardware or software components have issues, bugs or feature enhancements, they need to release an update. If Apple releases a new version of iPhone, iPod or iPad with sexy new features, they need to release an update. When hackers begin exploiting security flaws – one of the most important reasons for you to pay attention to these things since, contrary to popular belief, Apple patches lots of identified security flaws – they need to release an update. Good or bad, making iTunes one big master control app embodies a specific vision and philosophy for Apple.
Another specific Apple philosophy has two goals: reduce support costs – thus increasing profits – and increase the likelihood that the user will have a stable, predictable experience regardless of the health of their computer. To accomplish this they tend to release full-version updates that replace the bulk of the iTunes program structure, giving the user a fresh, clean install. If they chose to release “delta updates” – small software “patches” that would download and install much faster – to fix every minor bug or feature add-on, they would have to support many, many versions of the software. Likewise, delta patches may fail if the core software platform has been hacked or modified. These types of issues increase support costs. By updating and replacing the entire program structure, they can perform clean installations resulting in fewer problems.
This is, of course, in exchange for larger downloads and greater install times for the users, though I suspect Apple would argue their users prefer this inconvenience if it helps to ensure the post-installation user experience is stable and secure.
Boiled down, these two Apple philosophies, one big master app and full-version updates, dictate the update experience. True, they come often and tend to be big, but remember that Apple is successfully supporting an enormous number of mainly technology illiterate users on a wide range of hardware platforms, all through a common interface. This is not a simple task. Indeed, it only really works if a vendor is fairly heavy-handed about how it gets done. Also, given that many updates include important security patches, the user would be crazy to avoid them. As such, I will end by offering the same advice I gave to my nephew: “Yes, there are lots of updates. Suck it up and just install them.”